Friday, January 27, 2012

A Tale of Two Hangers

So, I hate wire clothes hangers. Not in the extreme sense, but I still dislike them because they are disastrous to my shirts. I'm a pretty big guy with broad shoulders, and using cheapo hangers on my shirts makes them pucker up into most-unmanly "shoulder nipples" of fabric. (And hello to all those random Googlers who were looking for something else when they typed "shoulder nipples" into the search box. Sorry to disappoint you. Also: ick.) We've been able to banish all but a few of these from our home, leaving a couple for kid's art projects or for snagging hand towels that fall behind the dryer.

Tubular plastic hangers are only slightly better in that they don't crumple under the weight of normal adult clothing, but they are used mainly for hanging up damp swimsuits in the shower in the summer. Slowly, over the years, I've been replacing both of these organizational abominations with wooden hangers. They're more solid, they are shaped like clothes are actually shaped, and keep my shirts neat. So of course I was delighted when my local thrift store put out a big bin of FREE HANGER'S (sic) TAKE ALL YOU WANT

Oh yes. Yes I will.

So I loaded up. A bunch from Ikea, to join the bunches from Ikea already holding up our coats at home. A few more that were in good shape and looked pretty sturdy. And then, down at the bottom of the bin, I found these two fellows.

Wooden hanger from Van Orman Hotels in Indiana and Illinois

This one caught my eye first, because it has printing stamped into both the front and back. This is the front, pictured above, and here's a detail from the back:

Detail from wooden hanger from Van Orman Hotels in Indiana and Illinois

The full statement on the back is "Four Modern Hotels of Courtesy, Comfort & Service." And when this hanger was in regular use, I'm sure that was the case. Check out the modernity!

20120127 postcard
Image from Postcard Ranch

I have no idea how this (pilfered?) hanger from a Midwestern, mid-century hotel quartet wound up in Northern California, though I know an estate sale just unloaded a number of items in this shop, so it's likely that the former owner has passed on, leaving this memento of a comfortable stay in one of these fine AAA hotels. What caught my eye the most, though, was that I was born in the selfsame city as one of these four (information thieves, take note.) It appears to still live on today as apartments.

The other hanger was underneath the first: a much thinner, cheaper, giveaway-quality example.

Vintage Coast Tailors and Cleaners Hanger

What made this interesting to me is that I know it's from San Francisco (Vicente St.) and it's relatively old, given the phone number "MO 5662" -- predating the three-digit dialing prefix. Sure enough, Google found a scan of a 1938 phone book with this business and their number, practically dwarfed on a page full of cleaners and a competitor's massive advertisement.

Section from a 1938 San Francisco phonebook
Source PDF document found here

It's not easy to tell what's there now: redevelopment happened, and Google Maps' best guess is that the cleaners address is now home to either a Starbucks or a Chase Bank.

View Larger Map

I have no way to know if these two items came from the same closet, if their former owner had, at one point in his life, made that same strange journey that I have, blowing West like a seed on a contrary jet stream. I know there's no significance to me finding them together, but it made me think of this story, made me do a little searching about two places that I have temporarily called home, and most importantly, saved me from the social shame of shoulder nipples.


Cameron said...

A surprisingly interesting find, especially after all your detective work. Well done!

Elizabeth H. said...

OK, this was a really awesome post, even if it did leave me with "shoulder nipples" forever stuck in my mental cavities. Thanks for that.

deek said...

I think you are going to get a huge increase in traffic. I mean, shoulder nipples? That is SEO gold!

Richard P said...

If there can be shoulder nipples, can there be breastblades?

Mike Speegle said...

See, these kind of problems can be easily avoided if you just use the tried-and-true "throw 'em in a pile, iron as needed" method.

mpclemens said...


Daddy only buys wrinkle-free shirts. From dryer to hanger to work to laundry pile, my nipple-free items need not be pressed. And thank goodness, too, because that sucks.

Mike Speegle said...

Well to be fair, "as needed" doesn't actually happen that often.

Duffy Moon said...

I know I have a good excuse to be here, since I've been following yer blog since it was a wee crying babe.

But I have to admit. I came for the shoulder nipples. And am leaving disappointed.